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Keyword: Woman, Watercolour, Watercolor, Colour, Pose, Soft, Back, Sit
- Limited Edition Paper Print
- Image Size: 11 3/8 x 19 1/8"
- Edition Size: 550 S/N
Steve Hanks attempts to evoke an emotion with his art. Hanks' sensitive portraits of women and children speak to the vulnerability we all feel at times. "All art," Hanks says, "is an escape to somewhere you want to be or a feeling you want to have."
Commenting on a painting of a woman reclining on a bed with sunlight streaming through a window, Hanks says, "It takes me back to my childhood, like a good song takes me back. I might see this and remember laying on my mother's bed while she read. It's keying into these memories and emotions. People see different things in these paintings because we all have different backgrounds and feelings. If you do the painting well enough, there should be a lot that people can get out of it."
Steve Hanks spent his childhood on the coast of California. He discovered surfing as a young teenager and found it to be a spiritual experience.
"Surfing had a strong influence on my paintings," he says. "The ocean often appears in my work, because I have such strong feelings for it. I use those feelings of walking down to the ocean, the sound of the ocean, the sights, checking the water temperature. Water has such a spiritual impact."
Steve Hanks moved with his family to New Mexico when he was 16. He was distressed at leaving his friends and the ocean he loved. To find solace, Hanks locked himself in his room, listened to music, and drew. By the end of a year, he knew that he wanted to be an artist.
After graduating from high school, Steve Hanks talked his parents into letting him take summer classes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. "The only way I could convince my parents to let me go was to say I was going into commercial art," he says. " I didn't even know what that was." He eventually transferred to the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
After receiving his degree, Steve Hanks returned to New Mexico, thinking that he would have a better chance of getting into a gallery than in California. He began to focus on the female figure, because he found it the most expressive subject and because it was difficult for him.
"I focused on the female figure, because it was the greatest challenge for me," Hanks says. "Women are interesting because of the subtleties involved in them. Then I found the power in them. And no one was doing this. No one was doing realistic figurative art other than cowboys and Indians. I started using the figures in settings that were familiar to me. I entered a couple of museum competitions and some galleries called me after seeing my work there. I won some awards and got write ups in the newspaper."
Steve Hanks images of children are often more than they appear, containing subtle commentary on social issues and the future. Likewise, Hanks paints nudes with an inner awareness. "They have an introspective solitude, where you're alone, thinking about your life, contemplating where you're going to go from here," Hanks says. "In a way, that's how I am when I'm painting, so I put my subject in the same situation I'm in."
"Paintings of women are like love songs, but they're more than that. The female has such a broad ability for expression beyond just showing you something pretty. They're dealing with emotions, and people will accept that emotion rather than say, 'Well, who is that?' That's what I want."
When the market for prints began to collapse in 1980, Hanks decided to switch from the slower oil paintings to watercolors. He was picked up by a gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona and he hasn't looked back.
Steve Hanks advice to artists: "All you have to do is paint all the time," Hanks says. "Paint and don't worry about it. You have to make every one of them fun. You have to keep going."
Steve Hanks lives with his wife and three children in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He continues to paint up to 14 hours a day. As he says, "Once I get going, it's hard to stop."
"People said, 'You won't be able to make a living at art; that degree is worthless," Hanks recalls. "But it was all I ever wanted to do. If I was going to starve, so be it. I was going to give it everything I had. Unfortunately, in college they teach you how to create art, but not how to make a living at it." - Steve Hanks